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OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
in the House of Commons, Mr, Attlee had not only
made it clear that those dispatches were to be altered in
retrospect by the men who had written them in the first
place> but had confessed that few if any of these dis-
patches would be reproduced in the exact form in which
they had actually been written at the time. I have
personally seen no reference to any effect which the
protest in History had, and I do not know of any develop-
ments that have since taken place in the situation. The
policy—if it has been persisted in—is different from one
which might have allowed the commanders to write say
in 1946 a totally new account of their experiences in a
dispatch which would have held no pitfalls for the
student if frankly dated 1946. There is no need for me
to say that such a policy would be very serious indeed
if it were to be extended to political documents of any
kind without a plain key to the alterations made. The
American editors of Na^i-Somet delations > 1939? guar-
anteed that no single document which they published
had been in any way interfered with or had suffered even
die slightest deletion. A precise and totally unqualified
certificate to this effect provides safeguards against a
subtle set of dangers, some of which (paradoxically
enough) would not in the least be disposed of by a mere
guarantee that nothing " relevant " or " important "
had been omitted. The time has also come when
assurances of this kind must be absolutely specific.

Indeed, where politics and diplomacy are concerned
we require a more explicit and detailed statement by
official historians and their critics of the appropriate
maxims, criteria, and conditions of work—a point about

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